Town Hall bosses used a little-known legal power to transform a local eyesore and solve a tenant’s bedroom tax conundrum.
Knowsley Council’s strategic housing team seized control of an empty two-bedroom property in Whiston, which had been a blight on the community for eight years, after their repeated attempts to engage with the owner fell on deaf ears.
Officers used an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to secure the house on St Nicholas Road before appointing a contractor to carry out a wide range of improvement works.
They have now handed the property over to Knowsley Housing Trust, who have let it out to tenant Elaine McNally – who has downsized from a four-bedroom house and lives in the property with her daughter.
Elaine said: “In my old house I had the stress of thinking about where the money was going to come from to pay the bedroom tax and it was too much. Coming into this house was great and I really feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
“When I first came to view the house with my daughter, I was absolutely delighted. The fact that all the work had been done took away a lot of the stress of moving. There is a lovely feel to the house and I felt at home right away.”
Knowsley Council has successfully used EDMOs on a number of occasions to bring empty properties back into use and claim they are the only authority in the Liverpool City Region to do so.
Coun Dave Lonergan, Knowsley Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, economy and skills, said: “We have a clear strategy aimed at bringing empty properties in Knowsley back into use and we use a range of innovative methods to achieve that goal.
“In this instance, we have removed a blight from the community, turned a problem property into a lovely family home and helped a resident downsize to take them out of the bedroom tax.
“This is a great example of how our approach to dealing with empty properties in the borough can resolve the issue to everyone’s benefit.”
Ian Thomson, of Knowsley Housing Trust, added: “We are really pleased that we have been able to help Elaine avoid the Government’s bedroom tax and this is one way in which KHT are supporting customers do this.”